You can’t keep a good corpse down in Gotham. Especially when said corpse has a small army of assassins around ready to spill blood to bring him back.
“To Our Deaths And Beyond” doesn’t hit the high notes we saw in last week’s “That’s Entertainment,” or in “Mandatory Brunch Meeting” the week before. But it does move us along in the season’s “A Dark Knight” storyline, bringing back an old enemy and giving us a glimpse of the future that will mold Bruce Wayne “into a Dark Knight of Gotham.”
If he survives, that is.
Ra’s al Ghoul
Nope, that’s not a spelling error in that subhead. Our returning villain is indeed Ra’s al Ghul, but through most of the episode he looks much more like a ghoul.
Remember the assassins who picked Tabitha up a couple of episodes back? These guys are not happy with Barbara Kean’s reign as the new Demon’s Head. They need Tabby to help them get to Bruce Wayne, so they can spill a little of Bruce’s blood on Ra’s remains to bring back their former leader.
That part worked, with a little unwitting help from Selina. But what they didn’t count on was Ra’s being quite unhappy with their actions. He’d welcomed death, and these guys messed it all up!
He gets even unhappier over Barbara’s use — or non-use — of the gift of the Demon’s Head.
While the action of this story revolves around Ra’s resurrection and retaking of his powers, at its heart is what we will do for those we care about. Tabby wants to save Barbara from the League of Shadows. Barbara wants to save Tabitha from Ra’s. Selina wants to save Bruce from having to kill Ra’s again.
None of it is particularly deep, but it’s all true to the way we’ve seen these characters grow over the past four years, and to the comic book origin of the show. We’re willing to overlook the lack of depth because of the style of storytelling. We get humor, from Bruce and Selina’s first appearance in Bruce’s new car to Selina’s Mission Impossible-style break-in to the Nanda Parbat embassy. There is the action of the confrontation between Barbara and Ra’s. And we get a few startling glimpses of what could be, when Barbara is finally able to tap into the power of the Demon’s Head and see the future. I admit jumping a little when Ra’s killed Tabby, only to get a reset a moment later with Tabby still alive and well.
The “A” storyline ends with Ra’s interrupting a tender moment between Bruce and Selina, to tell Bruce a cataclysmic event is coming to Gotham. It’s a foreshadowing of what the producers have already said we can expect for the season finale: a reset to take the show into season 5 — if it gets renewed.
If the bowler fits
The episode’s other plot line revolves around the Riddler and his partnership with Lee. They’ve taken to robbing banks. Lee motive is to get money for her people in the Narrows, robbing from a rich savings and loan to give to the poor, like a goth Robin Hood.
Riddler’s motive? Well, it doesn’t seem like he just wants the money, since he’s allowing her to give it away. The Ed Nygma who’s in love with Lee is not as dead and buried as the Riddler would like, and that Ed is as good at tormenting his other half as the Riddler had been earlier in the season. But the Riddler is in control enough to trick Penguin and Butch into helping him pull off his heists and then leave them stuck in a locked vault.
At least for a little bit.
As if we haven’t known it since we first saw Lee in Cherry’s Place, this story lets us see how she has really changed since being infected with the Tetch virus. Riddler notes it’s really taken hold since she shot Sofia Falcone. The ends now justify the means for Lee. It’s an uncomfortable evolution, though, and a heartbreaking one for Jim Gordon, who has to arrest the woman he loved — and still loves — while the Riddler gets away.
Getting near the end
There are just three episodes left of the season. With no news yet on a renewal, they may also be the last three episodes of the series. Hopefully what remains will be much stronger than this episode.
“To Our Deaths And Beyond” wasn’t the best episode to go into a two-week break on. It was interesting, but didn’t follow up well on the one-two punch of the previous two episodes. “That’s Entertainment” did more to whet our appetites for what comes next.
Gotham returns to FOX on Thursday, May 3 at 8 p.m./7 p.m. Central